Thursday, October 14, 2004

Jobs, Jobs, and More McJobs

The past four years have seen 2.7 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. vanish into thin air. Those jobs are never coming back. The replacements? McJobs. Home Depot. Wal-Mart. McDonalds. Over this past summer, my highschool aged daughter had to search two months for a job, simply because all of the McJobs in our local area were either staffed by college students who get out of school earlier, or more importantly, working adults supplementing with a second job.

One thing the debate last night failed to focus on was the number of working adults who now have to hold down two or three jobs just to put food on the table each night. The number has risen substantially over the past four years, even as the top tier folks buy another BMW with their tax breaks.

Trade Deficit Surges, Jobless Claims Up:

...In a second economic report, the Labor Department (news - web sites) said the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted level of 352,000. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out weekly changes, rose by 4,000 to a seven-month high of 352,000.

The report on jobless claims reflects a labor market that is continuing to confound economists' expectations. The country added a lower-than-expected 96,000 jobs in September as the unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent.

...The nation has lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs over the past four years and some sectors vulnerable to foreign trade such as textiles have been particulary hard hit.
There's also another topic that no one - I mean no one - is focusing on relative to jobs and the finances of lower income folks. The "underground" economy (I call it the "flea market economy") in the U.S. is exploding. And why? Because the McJobs at $5.15 an hour don't cut it.

A few months back I talked about a sure way for John Kerry to win the election - simply advocate raising the minimum wage to the point where someone working 40 hours a week would make enough to be at the low end of the poverty scale. I did the math, and the figure came out to a bit over $9 per hour. It should be a stated goal of a future Kerry / Edwards administration to reach a minimum wage plateau consistent with the poverty line, with annual COL adjustments.

Kerry steals 50% of the trailer park vote from Bush with such a commitment, and wins the election in a landslide. It's that simple.